Monday, July 26, 2010

I fear.

I fear broken relationship. I guess I've just been thinking a lot about how often it happens, and I fear it for myself.

I want to know sooooo badly the thing. You know, the thing (or things I suppose it could be) that causes people to end marriages, to leave spouses. What happens? It's with great sadness I yearn to understand the downward transformation some people experience. It's awful. I understand that sometimes it is necessary to get away from abuse, but I think it's safe to assume that breaking up is never easy when you're in a marriage.

I want to understand why marriages end, because I want to avoid that thing that causes it. Who's to say my marriage will last? And what can I do to make sure that it doesn't? How do we avoid the thing?!

I thought and thought and thought. But came up with nothing expect the following.


I cannot do marriage. I am not strong enough. Selfless enough. Sacrificial enough. Devoted enough. Loyal enough. My ability to love another person at the intensity that marriage requires comes only from God. I can't do it. Mr. Kern and I are not exempt from the hardships that end marriages. But we have the strength of God to empower us.

Only by God. I can't love without Him.

Get ready for it. Don Miller to be quoted once again. I'm reading Blue Like Jazz. And I absolutely LOVE the ending of his chapter on romance. It really speaks for itself, and puts great words on this idea of finding strength for marriage in God.

"I had been working on a play called Polaroids that year. It was the story of one man's life from birth to death, each scene delivered through a monologue with other actors silently acting out parts behind the narrator as he walks the audience through his life journey. In the scene I had written... I had the man fighting with his wife. They were experiencing unbearable tension after losing a son in a car accident the year before. I knew in my heart they were not going to make it, that Polaroids would include a painful divorce that showed the ugliness of separation. But I changed my mind. After talking with Paul [a married friend] I couldn't do it. I wonder what it would look like to have the couple stick it out. I got up and turned on my computer. I had the lead character in my play walk into the bedroom where his wife was sleeping. I have him kneel down by her and whisper some lines:

'What great gravity is this that drew my soul towards yours? What great force, that though I went falsely, went kicking, went disguising myself to earn your love, also disguised to earn your keeping, your resting, your staying, your will fleshed into mind, rasped by a slowly revealed truth, the barter of my soul that I fear, the soul that I loathe, the soul that: if you will love, I will love. I will redeem you, if you will redeem me? Is this our purpose, you and I together to pacify each other, to lead each other toward that lie that we are good, that we are noble, that we need not redemption, save the one that you and I invented of our own clay?
I am not scared of you, my love, I am scared of me.
I went looking, I wrote out a list, I drew an image, I bled a poem of you. You were pretty, and my friends believed I was worth of you. You were clever, but I was smarter, perhaps the only one smarter, the only one able to lead you. You see, love, I did not love you, I loved me. And you were only a tool that I used to fix myself, to fool myself, to redeem myself. And though I have taught you to lay your lily hand in mind, I walk alone, for I cannot talk to you, lest you talk it back to me, lest I believe that I am not worthy, not deserving, not redeemed.
I want desperately for you to be my friend. But you are not my friend; you have slide up warmly to the man I wanted to be, the man I pretended to be, and I was your Jesus and, you were mine. Should I show you who I am, we may crumble. I am not scared of you, my love, I am scared of me.
I want to be known and loved anyway. Can you do this? I trust by your easy breathing that you are human like me, that you are fallen like me, that you are lonely, like me. My love, do I know you? What is this great gravity that pulls us so painfully toward each other? Why do we not connect? Will we be forever in fleshing this out? And how will we with words, narrow words, come into the knowing of each other? Is this God's way of meriting grace, of teaching us of the labyrinth of His love for us, teaching us, in degrees, that which He is sacrificing to join ourselves to Him? Or better yet, has He formed our being fractional so that we might conclude one great hope, plodding and sighing and breathing into one another in such a great push that we might break through into the known and being loved, only to cave into a greater perdition and fall down at His throne still begging for our acceptance? Begging for our completion?
We were fools to believe that we would redeem each other.
Were I some sleeping Adam, to wake and find you resting at my rib, to share these things that God has done, to walk you through the garden, to counsel your timid steps, your bewildering eye, your heart so slow to love, so careful to love, so sheepish that I stepped up my aim and became a man. Is this what God intended? That though He made you from my rib, it is you who is making me, humbling me, destroying me, and in so doing revealing Him.
Will we be in ashes before we are one?
What great gravity is this that drew my heart toward yours? What great force collapsed my orbit, my lonesome state? What is this that wants in me that want in you? Don't we go at each other with yielded eyes, with cumbered hands and feet, with clunky tongues? This deed is unattainable! We cannot know each other!...'"

And the kicker.

"'... I am quitting this thing, but not what you think. I am not going away.
I will give you this, my love, and I will not bargain or barter any longer. I will love you, as sure as He has loved me. I will discover what I can discover and though you remain a mystery, save God's own knowledge, what I disclose of you I will keep in the warmest chamber of my heart, the very chamber where God has stowed Himself in me. And I will do this to my death, and to death it may bring me.
I will love you like God, because of God, mighted by the power of God. I will stop expecting your love, demanding your love, trading for your love, gaming for your love. I will simply love. I am giving myself to you, and tomorrow I will do it again. I suppose the clock itself will wear thin its time before I am ended at this altar of dying and dying again.
God risked Himself on me. I will risk myself on you. And together, we will learn to love, and perhaps then, and only then, understand this gravity that drew Him, unto us.'"

I think love is beautiful when it's seen as a covenant. When your effort to love someone is independent of how much effort they put in to love you.

Now that is Christ.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

God's Angsty Too

I love the moments when you realize something about God and it hits you in the face and takes your breath away.

I'm reading The Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila. It's a really good read for me in light of this disconnection (or whatever it is) I'm having with God.

I've lost a sense of God's love for me. I no longer understand and believe it as I once did. Midst this desert, I sense His indifference and His complacency for my situation. My head knows the falsity of this, but my heart is another story. I think it's a lot more difficult to understand something with your heart than with your head.

But God smacked me today. And basically said, "FRICK I LOVE YOU!!"

Context. In this book I'm reading, Teresa explains the soul as a castle composed of many mansions. I don't understand all of it since I've only started. But the outer mansions are the soul's concerns with earthly affairs; this is where Satan dwells the most and has the most influence. The inner mansion, the 7th, is utmost connection and oneness with God, and a place Satan cannot penetrate.

In the chapter about the 2nd mansions, Teresa discusses how there is more suffering to be had than in the 1st mansions. Those in the 1st mansions are ignorance, and don't understand that those inner mansions and connection with God even exist. She calls them "dumb," saying they can "hear nothing." But those who dwell in the 2nd mansions understand that there is more, but they are far from it. There is potential for more depth with God, but it's something they lack. Teresa describes them as those "who can hear and not speak."

Teresa writes of God's view of the 2nd mansion dwellers, and why that makes them suffer so much:

"[T]his Lord of ours is so anxious that we should desire Him and strive after His companionship that He calls us ceaselessly, time after time, to approach Him; and this voice of His is so sweet that the poor soul is consumed with grief at being unable to do His bidding immediately; and thus, as I say, it suffers more than if it could not hear Him."

For the first time in a while, I did not see complacency from God. I saw anxiousness. I saw eagerness for me to long for Him. My angst for this dryness was matched.

I still feel the necessity of this desert. I understand that it's simply something I must go through. After all, God trusts me, right? But He hurts as much as I do. Just like a parent who watches their kid suffer but does not jump to fix it. For they know the need for lessons of life experiences, and maturity through hardship.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Zoologist nerding out again ...

One of the Zoology building on campus houses the preserved body of a giant spider crab (beware this link - the picture is creepy!). I marvel at it every time I'm there, which is often.

It is HUGE.

It's found in Japan and it's the largest of all known arthropods. The one we have on campus is 4'8" from the center of its body to the tip of its longest appendage, but this distance can be up to 6 feet in other individuals. Oh. My. Goodness. Want to run into one of those on the beach? Me neither. They feed on coral, but noooo way am I wanting to encounter that beast!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Here I am.

I'm hyper.

I'm hyper because I'm revved up by the way God is moving. I'm finally starting to understand the things I'm going through and why I'm going through them.

Confused? Welcome to my life.

I went out for coffee this afternoon with a very wise catholic man. He's the choir director of the catholic church on campus where a close friend of mine attends. I somehow ended up setting up coffee with him and gained a perspective that has been freeing me for the past hour.

My connection with God has been changing over the past year. The thing is, this change doesn't feel good. It feels as if a connection is absent, almost as if I've checked out and have lost touch with my Lord. I've been thankful for this humbling and somber experience. But it has been painful to think I've been trying so hard without seeing any fruit of my labor.

I told this to my new friend, and he said something that surprised me, something that I never even thought about.

"What a blessing that He trusts you enough to give you this experience."

I'm not experiencing the fruit of a connection with God. I don't feel good about my relationship with Him because I don't feel the output, the benefits of connection with Him. But this experience has been an opportunity for me to stay. I'm still here, even though there are no rewards. I don't feel very present, and I don't feel I've been the greatest person lately. But I somehow remain, and I've been given the strength to.

Tonight I was also given a good metaphor. Kids should eat their green beans. And most of the time they have to be given some sort incentive to eat them. "Eat the rest of your green beans, and you can have dessert." Good deal! But what about when there is no dessert? When the kid is posed with a decision free from incentive, what an opportunity to grow in maturity. Someone has truly grown up when they can eat their green beans when there's no dessert, when they can act outside of foreseeing a reward for their actions.

I feel like this is my opportunity to eat my green beans, to cling to God and seek relationship with him, without eating dessert too and feeling the rewarding experience of connecting with God.

Because He trusts me enough to have this experience. He trusts that I'll stay.

I am so honored that He feels He can. And I have never been so blessed to feel so little of God.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


I'm reading Ephesians 1. It first talks about how much God loves us, even before He created the world; and how he's had plans for us to be in Christ all along.


I've struggled with God's love these last few months. I feel I've lost touch with being able to believe and receive it. Why do I fear God doesn't love forever?

I know God speaks. I just don't know how. But reading this passage, I got a sense that God was saying, I loved you before I created the world, so what on earth makes you think I'd stop now?

Silly girl. :)

This song means a lot to me right now because of this.

Anyway, onto the rest of Ephesians 1. Paul transitions from God's love and kindness into how He shows us his plans.

"He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ - everything in heaven and earth. Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan." (v. 8-11)

God will bring everything back to himself. That's his plan.

Whenever I hear the word plan or anything like it, I get in this weird mode where I think about how it can pertain to me. Oh God is talking about plans! I should listen up so I can apply them to my life! But this passage somewhat stops me in my tracks. His plan is huge, but simple. It doesn't really involve internships or a 10 year plan. So do all my detailed plans really matter? I know the little things contribute to the big picture, and one thing leads to another, guiding you to end up where you're meant to be (is "meant" even the right word?). But why the detailed paths? Does it matter whether I take this job or that? Whether I go to this school or that one?

Maybe not. The point is to draw near to God! To be in relationship with Him! To be part of the restoration of his kingdom (goodness there could be pages and pages written about what that means ... )!

I was skimming through a book a friend of mine owns, and I read something in it that changed my mindset (and thank God for that). The author says that the most important task is not what you do, but who you become; and that your life is God's project. Maybe it's not so much about what kind of career I have (although it's right for me to do something I love), but the kind of character I build within myself. I think our main focus in life is misplaced. We think about where we're going and what we'll do with our lives. These are good foci, but not the point.

My eyes have been opened to taking advantage of opportunities to become a better person, a more complete version of myself. I think it's safe to say that our acts of service are most important to building our selflessness. Our commitment to God in quiet times is not to build discipline as much as it is to build ourselves more in the likeness of God. We ask God to make us better people; well I believe He gives us opportunities to build ourselves as such rather than just changing our character.

This frees me.